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He’s back

Local MP Alistair Carmichael and chief pilot Jimmy Livitt unveiling Oscar Charlie. Photo Millgaet Media

SHETLAND coastguard search and rescue helicopter Oscar Charlie has returned to the islands’ skies …in name at least.

On Friday afternoon after completing a 240 mile round trip to the Nelson platform south east of Sumburgh to collect an injured crewman that morning, Bristow’s brand new Sikorsky S-92 chopper was renamed at a special ceremony.

Local MP Alistair Carmichael and local coastguard chief pilot Jimmy Livitt unveiled the name at the Sumburgh hangar, while watched by senior representatives of both Bristow and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The original Oscar Charlie, a Sikorsky S-61N, operated from 1985 until 2007, and was involved in some of the most dramatic rescues seen around the British coast.

These included the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, the rescue of 14 crew from the Braer oil tanker in 1993 and the rescue of all 60 crew from the Russian klondyker Lunohods, which set the current record of rescuing 32 survivors in one lift.

From left: Clark Broad, Bristows Helicopters; Richard Parks, Director of Maritime Operations with the MCA; Sir Alan Massey, MCA chief executive; Alistair Carmichael MP; Samantha Willenbacher, Director of UK Search and Rescue, Bristow Helicopters Ltd and chief pilot Jimmy Livitt. Photo Millgaet Media

Bristow’s UK director of search and rescue Samantha Willenbacher said they were honoured to be back in Shetland delivering the coastguard service after losing the contract to CHC in 2007.

She said: “We’re very aware of the affectionate way that Oscar Charlie came to be viewed by the community during its long years of service. That is why it made sense for us to carry forward the name to our new S-92 aircraft.”

Alistair Carmichael added: “I am also very pleased to see that the new helicopter will be named Oscar Charlie; it is a name that local people have come to trust and to associate with the rescue service.

“I know that the men and women who serve in the new Oscar Charlie will continue to maintain its predecessor’s reputation for reliability and excellent service.”